THE BLOG

24
May

Sweet memories . . .

By Michael Eldridge

My photographs are not just photographs.

Now that’s an amazing statement Mice!

Yes, and somewhat simplistic, I know, I know.

Let me put it this way. They are a sort of external hard disc of my mind and I can shut my eyes and summon up every painting and photograph that I have ever created.

And what is more . . .

Yes Yes Yes ?

If I had never created them, my life would not be as it is now.

Whoa!. Heavy stuff!

Not really no. You see, what we create, what we create beyond ourselves, enriches us.

Let me give an example.

I was at the Printer’s this morning in Tolentino printing this image, testing again the limit of Mauro’s patience (he my print expert on RAW and Nikon imaging programme) And I asked him about a course he’d just finished on master printing. Cheekily I asked him if they ever, in these classes, talked about the experience, the actuality, of taking photographs. He span around at me in his swivel chair and said ‘Look, the first thing we are always told in these classes, is that the image you take is what is of supreme importance. It starts here. And to never attempt to work on an image that isn’t good, your best’

Nice that!

So this image above, for me, is about that instance of recognition, where you feel yourself part of what you are photographing. Where duality dissolves; where you absorb the trees as they themselves absorb the first moister from their roots as winter releases them tenderly from its grip.

And now that creation is part of me; the trees, the dampness, the mist, the sky.

And that’s what is so marvelous about the medium.

20
May

Some Thoughts On Mining Techniques In Dereozu Turkey

Whilst it’s possible to photograph anything and make it beautiful there’s very little that’s beautiful about the way trees were brutalised at Dereozu. They haven’t been cut down, were crushed with heavy machinery.”

Exploratory Manganese Workings Dereozu, Turkey.

An Exploratory Manganese Working, Dereözü, Turkey.

I said as much on Marmaris, Park FM 100.5 radio during an interview about a forthcoming exhibition of photographs which features the Dereözü woodlands, as well as images from the Me Marche region of Italy by my fellow photographer Michael Eldridge.

You can hear the full interview here. Some parts are in Turkish but the story is pretty clear, no matter which language you speak.

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss 'Trees and Sky' with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss ‘Trees and Sky’ with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM

 

15
May

Sex, Lies, And Name Dropping

By Michael Eldridge

This is a picture of an Oak tree which lives at the bottom of my garden.

It was taken with my telefonino (i.e. mobile) so it was a bit hit and miss.

What would Ansel have said, I wonder? Ansel? Oh, yes, I’m referring to Ansel Adams.

You’ve met Ansel Adams?

Yeah, yeah, a few times, he was a friend of my mate George who looked after me in California where I lived for a while.

OOH!

Yes, I mention him not because I’m name dropping but because of the story he told us about his famous ‘Moon over Sierra Nevada’ photograph, taken when he and Edward Weston and the whole West Coast States bunch were rolling down to Arizona in a drunken haze. Fact was, he just took a deep breath in the dark and took a divine guess at the exposure.

Was as surprised as a moonbeam that it came out, let alone that it was to become an icon and milestone in the history of photography.

Divine guess, I like that, well done Mice.

Lovely guy, no pretensions, very kind and gentle.

Like Tony Snowdon.

What you’ve met him too?

Yeah, did all the backdrop design for him on a Issey Mayake shoot in London

Lovely guy, thoughtful, kind and patient.

Like Cartier-Bresson and Buckminster Fuller.

Huh? WWahwa?

And in November, I met (after not having seen him for years), Oliviera Toscani, an old friend from those hippy days.

But hey! This is beginning to sound like name dropping and that just isn’t my style at all.

All I really want to say is that photographers are really nice, humble people.

Like me and Steve.

Oh, and modest too.

Steve’s a bit of a name dropper though, between you and me!

Micer 😉

13
May

Publicity For ‘Trees And Sky’ Builds

Slowly news of ‘Trees and Sky’ is drip-feeding into the Turkish, and International Press. Suddenly the photographers find the tables turned and the lenses are focussed upon them.

It’s an amazing turn of events for the two men who eschew publicity in favour of walking in the hills and dales of their chosen habitats.

Michael John Eldridge both paints, and runs creativity courses as well as taking photographs. He lives in the Le Marche region of Italy and it was his images that initially inspired Stephen  Bray to create ‘Trees and Sky’.

Bray has led two parallel careers, both as a psychotherapist as well as a second career in publishing.

Trees and Sky is open to public view at Netsel Gallery Marmaris from 29th May until 10th June. More information is available on this website and also at Facebook.com/TreesandSky.meagaclarsayfa

 

06
May

Why I Committed To ‘Trees and Sky’

I came to live on a beach near Marmaris after a busy full-time career spent helping others. I was once a social worker and then a psychotherapist. After more than thirty years in the field it was pretty obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our world is going, and it seemed equally obvious that there was very little I could do to remedy it.

Nevertheless I decided to make a start.

It was clear that helping individuals, or even groups within my profession would not make that much difference. Besides I was getting ‘stale’ and needed new challenges.

Two things seemed to me to be imperative. Firstly, to give my baby daughter the very best start I could in life. After all she will, hopefully, be around long after I’m gone and with the right ideals and mind-set may achieve more than I can. Secondly, since politicians and scientists seem to be failing us, whatever I offer must come from the inside outwards, from the heart if you like, rather than being engineered, or even planned.

An exhibition, of course, does need planning and coordination, but I’m not writing about that kind of detail when thinking about this body of photographic work.

At first I simply put my house in order, literally for the dwelling in which I live with my family had to be rebuilt. Then, seemingly, I did nothing. But during this unplanned doing nothingness I came to take photographs of my friends, the terrain, our garden, and whatever else took my fancy.

I’ve always been a photographer. I used the family Box Ensign long before I was given my first camera at the age of eight. I struggled to make prints at home and within the school camera club. Eventually I signed up for a photography course given by Michael Eldridge, with whom I share this exhibition.

Later my work expanded. In a parallel career in publishing I learned how to take pictures to illustrate stories, and for commercial purposes.

These photographs though are different. They are simply reflections that I found when walking in my back yard. Nothing is contrived about them. Where I’ve used techniques to tone, or emphasise areas of an image it has simply been in the photographic tradition of rendering on paper the image I saw in my mind.

In Tibet, I am told, when someone is sick a traditional doctor, frequently a shamanic priest, may be called and s/he will prescribe a course of meditation that involves gazing into a Mandala.

I believe pictures have a similar ability to heal, not in a prescriptive kind of way as the result of a Feng Shui consultation, although I’m sure my photographs could be used to great advantage in this manner. Rather, when they are properly framed, and respected, they have the ability to focus your mind back into the land of your ancestors. A land largely unpolluted and unspoilt.

It is only through such a focus that our world can be healed and made whole once again.

04
May

Free Postcards, At The Trees And Sky Exhibition, Marmaris.

Trees and Sky starts with an Exhibition in Marmaris, Turkey commencing on 28th May, and continuing until June 10th. There is to be a blazing hot party for the private showing on 28th, when Michael Eldridge, the former Director of Postgraduate Studies in Photography at Bournemouth College of Art will be available to answer questions about his work.

Early visitors to the show, from 29th May, will be given a limited edition folio of postcards, while stocks last. These feature works from both Eldridge and Stephen Bray.

They are perfect for thanking the hostess following a dinner party, or for writing a note of condolence, or affection to a loved one. But they are real post cards and we want you to use them, rather than leave them to gather dust in a drawer.

 

02
May

The Trees and Sky Exhibition

Trees and Sky is not simply an exhibition but marks the start of an on-going project aimed to help people reconnect with the elemental aspects of life, which for many are obscured by the pressures of everyday life.

poster2

The exhibition images are a number of large prints featuring the Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, and the rugged hills that are to be found on the Lorima Peninsular, Turkey.

Michael Eldridge and I met 35 years ago in a college in England where Michael taught photography, but they lost touch after the class ended.

I went on to pursue a dual career as both columnist and photographer for a number of publications, as a side-string to his main career as a psychotherapist. Since coming to live in Turkey in 2000 I taught a generation of Turkish professionals Family Therapy and continue to play a role in the field.

Michael left his post as Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at the prestigious Bournemouth College of Art in order to work with Sue Mann (ex Art Director of Vogue) in her company ‘Synektics’ a London based media company, U.K. During this period he worked with many famous photographers including Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret. He met the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whilst teaching in California as a Fulbright Scholar.

Some of my images appeared in ‘Cahoots’, a regional magazine about alternative lifestyles published in the North of England, and also in ‘The County Forum’, a Dorset based publication. I also worked in the U.K with the advertising photographer Shaun Cullen, and portraitist Nigel Port. His work is finding its way into a number of private collections.

Michael and I have been taking photographs since we were boys and together have put over 100 man years into the study and application of the medium. They share a remarkable kindred-like relationship that enables them to take up their ability to work and banter even after prolonged absences of contact.

Remarkably Michael, at an age when most people would be firmly retired, has just launched a second career for himself as a Creativity Coach, which enables him to continue to teach young people ways to enhance their lives and careers.

Over the years they have taken part in over 20 Exhibitions in Europe and North America but hitherto have never shown their work together.

We took the opportunity to launch ‘Trees and Sky’ in Marmaris when Özgur Uğan, of Netsel Marina, Marmaris, suggested that Netsel Gallery would be a perfect venue. Michael was keen to bring his work to Turkey, having visited the country in his youth.

Trees and Sky is opening to private view on 28th May at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris and will be open to the public from 29th May until 10th June.2010.

01
May

The Remarkable Story of ‘Trees and Sky’

Who would have thought that a friendship might endure for thirty-five years without those chums meeting, or hearing, of each other at all?

And how strange that each, in our own unique ways have trodden a similar paths.

Michael Eldridge is an accomplished artist, both on canvas, for like many good photographers he paints, and also as a highly attuned lens-man. Now living in the mystical Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, he was an art teacher in Dorset, U.K. when I first encountered him.

I have been making images for half a lifetime using the skills first imparted to me by Michael long ago.

Although people rarely appear in their images both Michael and I share an enthusiasm for others. He is a driving force within the ‘Tiger Eagles Coaching Group’, and teaches Creativity Workshops, both in Italy and other countries.

I spent years teaching generations of psychotherapists, including doctors and psychologists, both in the U.K. and Turkey, and continue to provide support and supervision for many health care professionals.

There are three elements to each image Michael and I produced for our exhibition. There is the sky, which changes but like any personality yet remains the same essential entity. Then there are the trees, growing daily and, like all living things, subject to finite lives that witness both virtue and hardship.

The third element is you, the viewer. We invite you to make what you will of the images in this exhibition.

Stephen Jeremy Maxwell Bray and Michael John Eldridge

StephenBray and Michael Eldridge

18
Apr

Veteran Female Turkish Photographer Applauds ‘Trees And Sky’.

When Tuncay Çöteloğlu heard that Michael Eldridge and I were launching their International photography exhibition, ‘Trees and Sky’, in Turkey she was astounded!

“It is my subject,” she exclaimed, “I was thinking of hosting an exhibition called ‘Trees and Clouds’.

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is one of Turkey’s treasures. Born the daughter of an Ottoman officer and personal friend of Mustafa Kemal, she has always been close to the arts.

She studied painting, and the piano, before these were fashionable in Turkey, but her passion, since a young girl, is photography.

“There were no films when I started”, she explained, “My first images were made on glass plates”.

“Later I used film cameras. I always carry a camera with me even today I have one in my handbag.”

Tuncay indeed did have the small compact camera, which she purchased some twenty years ago. She shot a few frames just to prove that she hasn’t lost her touch.

She covers events as a news freelancer, and sometimes takes on commercial assignments. She is also an experienced curator having hosted over twenty exhibitions prior to moving to Selimiye, (Nr. Marmaris), sixteen years ago.

“I started working professionally during the 1960s”, she explained, “I had my own studio and processing lab back then.”

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is a past president of Istanbul Photography and Cinema Amateurs Club (IFSAK), which was founded in 1959. She was the sole female member back then and her name, which can be applied either to boys, or girls, (more frequently boys), sometimes caused confusion.

“How could this tiny woman with a smiling face be the president of anything, people asked?”

“At first we met in the reading rooms of mosques, there were twelve of us. Later, when I acquired my lab, we met there because I had room. But when the numbers grew then we had to find larger venues.”

“I chose photography because I like to pioneer new things”, Tuncay told Bray who had met with her to ask her advice about a test print he had made in preparation for for ‘Trees and Sky’.

“I have also been a hotel manager, the manager of a concrete manufacturing works, a sea captain, as well as a parent of course.”

“My first love is life, and my second photography.”

When she saw the test print, which measures 90 cms. across, Tuncay said, “It is beautiful. I like to photograph the sky and the trees in this way. Sometimes people don’t understand what I see when I point my camera at the clouds. But I see shapes like animals heads, and sometimes the skyline resembles the profile of Ataturk.”

“Look there’s the head of a wild-boar in your picture, right here!”

25
Jan

The Archetype Fundamentalists Fear Most

The world is changing faster than at any other time in history. The influences of globalization, such as the electronic transmission of money as well as ecology. affect us all. There is in some places a move away from patriarchy and in others a reaction toward its alternatives.

In the Balkans old enmities erupted after a period of peace. Today much of  the Middle East is mired in bloodshed. It is suggested that these struggles are the birth pangs of a new archetype that seeks expression.

This archetype is not like Artemis, a huntress, or Athena, Zeus’s intellectual daughter, as feminists would have us believe. Instead it is rooted in activity, which like laziness is traditionally considered a male preserve. The archetype is unusual, being male in character whilst serving the traditionally feminine principles of receptivity, service, fecundity and fortitude.

A Brief History of the Dominant Male Archetype

According to Hesiod, the patriarchal god Zeus fathered many children. He also laboured under the guilt of a terrible crime. He had committed patricide. Cronos his father was one of a dynasty of older gods known as the Titans. Cronos was in fact the leader of the Titans and the most powerful god of that period, (prehistory) until Zeus supplanted him.

Although Zeus’s crime is terrible it may be argued that he suffered from mental illness when he committed the crime. The stories about him suggest that he is quite disturbed.

Zeus was like so many of us a victim of our own parents’ fear and rage. Cronos believed that one day he would be supplanted by one of his children, so whilst they were still infants he swallowed them. Zeus’s mother fearing this fate for her son tricked Cronos by wrapping a stone in baby clothes and Cronos swallowed the stone instead of the baby Zeus.

Zeus, being a strategist, recognised that alone he would be unable to overthrow Cronos. He therefore persuaded the wise goddess Metis to give Cronos an emetic, which caused Cronos to vomit up his siblings Poseidon and Hades. With the aid of his brothers, Cronos was bound and defeated.

After this period of conflict a relative calm ensued in which Zeus began to work his way through a host of female goddesses, deities, nymphs and mortal women.

These are:

  • Metis Goddess of Wisdom ~ Mother of Athena and Mother of the New Archetype?
  • Themis Goddess of Justice ~ Mother of the Fates and Seasons
  • Euronome ~ Mother of the Graces
  • Demeter Goddess of the Harvest ~ Mother of Demeter
  • Mnemosyne Memory ~ the Nine Muses
  • Leto ~ Mother of Apollo and Artemis
  • Hera Goddess of the Hearth ~ Mother of Aries
  • Zeus also fathered Hephestus, the lone inventor and god of craftsmanship as well as Dionysus, the wandering god of wine and ecstasy.

Why should we bother about ancient gods?

According to psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen, by understanding the ancient gods and goddesses we can also understand where our conflicts lie and how we might achieve wholeness. Her vision includes both powerful inner archetypes such as Hades and Poseidon and also conformity-demanding stereotypes such as Apollo and Hera.

Her analysis of all of the goddesses and gods is enlightening to those of us who strive to understand those with whom we work, as well as ourselves. They provide insight into the irrational aspects of our nature.

When I met Jean Shinoda Bolen in 1988 she told me of a new archetype that was predicted by Hesiod. Before proceeding with that story however it is worth taking a further look at the mental health and parenting style of Zeus.

Zeus’s crime

Whilst a cunning lawyer would no doubt seek an acquittal of Zeus for the murder of Cronos, either on the ground that Zeus was depressed, (i.e. constrained from achieving his potential), or acting in self-defence, it is clear that murder was done by a method most horrid.

The influence of Cronos and the effect of murdering him must have left a deep impression upon Zeus because he was paranoid about his own sons overthrowing him.

His first consort Metis is the old Titan goddess of wisdom who bore Zeus two children. Under the influence of his ‘illness’ Zeus decided that they must be done away with at birth. Following the example of his father Cronos, he decided to swallow them but, as he knew that Metis their mother might trick him with an emetic, as he had tricked Cronos, Zeus devised a cunning plan. He decided that he would not only swallow the children but Metis as well.

By tricking the pregnant Metis to become very small Zeus was able to swallow her whilst her children were still in her womb. The plan was flawed however because one day Zeus woke with a blinding headache and the baby Athena was born from Zeus’s head.

The birth of Athena from the head of Zeus with Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth, on the right.

The birth of Athena from the head of Zeus with Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth, on the right.

Zeus did not perceive Athena as a threat, indeed she was a virgin goddess and a great support to him, often depicted fully armed sitting protectively near to him. She was never an infant but born fully formed. In wartime she presides over battle strategy and in peacetime domestic arts. She is dedicated to chastity and celibacy.

It is perhaps partly due to Athena’s non-threatening influence that Zeus became more reconciled to his role as a parent to subsequent children. Predictably he clashed with some, but he no longer attempted to kill them, although his consorts frequently attempted to hurt children that he had sired by others.

Later he acted as an incubator for his son Dionysus born of a mortal woman Semele who would otherwise have died because of the jealous trickery of his wife the goddess Hera.

Sofia

When Zeus swallowed Metis and her children, feminine wisdom was shrunk and overshadowed. The ancient Greeks were in many ways the founders of scientific thought as well as clever psychologists.

The complete subjugation of spirit by matter was completed by the 17th century.

Paradoxically this occurred when the Christian Church of Rome made it difficult for us to explore life without being convicted of religious crimes.

Galileo_facing_the_Roman_Inquisition

Cristiano Banti’s 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

In order to overcome this, some creative people reframed investigation of life making it positivist science, in which spirit and matter are divided.

The witch trials of the Middle Ages virtually eliminated traces of the ‘old wisdom’ by the late C17 in most North European Countries, the exception being perhaps the northern tundra of Asia, where it required the advent of Stalinism before this was achieved.

In Istanbul the ancient Church of Sophia, (another name for Metis) emerged as a museum after six centuries of domination as an Islamic Holy Place. Rome is at last seeking reconciliation both with Christian factions and Muslims as Pope Paul’s visit to a Syrian mosque demonstrated.

In Ireland, the mothers of Catholic and Protestants provided the accord and the impetus that has lead to a concerted effort at peace. These women can see that the senseless killing of their sons is leading nowhere. Is this Metis emerging?

The New Archetype

Bolen says that we are witnessing the emergence of a new archetype. This is not Metis but her unborn son, the brother of Athena. Unlike Athena who only acknowledges the father, this son acts in the service of his mother Metis, so long buried.

His aim though is to redeem Zeus, to heal his illness and to repair the years of suppression and patricide.

This son is an active force, but one with a connection to the earth and its ecology. He serves a higher purpose than an ‘ego’, or even an ‘ego ideal’. He simply is, and does what is necessary with the respect and obedience of the other gods and goddesses.

What does the archetype look like?

In a recent census in the United Kingdom, citizens were urged to complete the box indicating their religion with the word Jedi. Jedi is a word denoting a Knight serving something called ‘the force’. This mysterious force is a Zen like quality of wholeness. It occurs in the Star Wars films and is the creation of their author, George Lucas. Luke Skywalker seeks a loving father in Darth Vader, a fallen knight who can only survive within a special suit of armour. Finally Vader melts before Luke and in removing his helmet condemns himself to death.

Skywalker is fostered as a child on a backward planet, and only as a young adult does he learn that his true heritage is to become a Jedi knight.

A new villain and hero are currently achieving literary notoriety. Harry Potter the son of a wizard and wizardess who were killed in infancy by the dark wizard who must not be named (Voldemort).

When Voldemort attempts to kill the infant Potter, Voldemort is damaged because Harry is protected by his mother’s love. In a series of books Voldemort, now disabled, disfigured and disembodied, much like Darth Vader, tries to win back his position of power and to defy death.

Meanwhile Harry Potter has survived his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Wizardry, as well as five attempts upon his life by Voldemort and his agents.

Hogwarts operates a house system common in many English Private Schools. In his first year Harry is allocated to Gryffindor House whose founder Goddrick was known for his qualities of bravery and daring. There are three other houses: Ravenclaw, wise and witty; Hufflepuff, loyal and hardworking; and Slytherin, cunning and sly.

The differences between Gryffindor and Slytherin are the most extreme. Whilst Goddrick Gryffindor the founder of Gryffindor House favours inclusion, discussion and action, Salazar Slytherin is a bigot who seeks to confine magic only to those with magical bloodlines dating into pre-history.

In the Potter books, J.K. Rowling hints once again at the new archetype, in which the hero with a magical past, who has been fostered by Muggles (humans without imagination or magical powers) using courage, wins the day.

It may be that Zeus’s anticipated son, and the one predicted to defeat him, cannot arise in common consciousness without considerable ideological and  physical battles, if at all!

So What?

When parallel motifs begin to appear in art and literature they indicate the presence of secondary processes. These are emerging themes, not quite with us in concrete form, but nevertheless emerging into awareness.

Those of us who believe that consciousness is primary, can take heart from this in the knowledge that the current move towards globalization is not a chaotic force that must be controlled, but part of a rising culture that may bring us some kind of salvation.

Positivists will have greater difficulty in sensing beyond the chaos that we find dividing communities throughout the world. Even they however, are beginning to realize that the pressures of environmental ecology means that we need wisdom as well as understanding.

Footnote:
This article in a slightly different form was first published in Nurturing Potential Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3 – Winter 2002 as: ‘Where Are We Now: Understanding the muddle’. It is based upon a presentation made to the European Family Therapy Congress, Sofia, in the same year.